New Plymouth rider Michael Torckler is poised to add his name to an illustrious list of past winners of the Wellington Cycle Classic.

Torckler and his Cardno team-mates withstood a fiery challenge from defending champion Peter McDonald's Drapac Porsche team in yesterday's 127km fourth stage around Gladstone, near Masterton, to retain the yellow jersey going into today's final stage, a 45km criterium in Wellington's CBD.

Such was the pace set by Drapac Porsche as they sought to help Lachlan Norris close a five-second gap on Torckler, the race ended 20 minutes inside the anticipated three to 3 hours.

However, Torckler's team of Aaron Strong, Clinton Avery, George Bennett and Wade Mengham kept a close eye on proceedings to help their team leader, who has held the yellow jersey since taking it off McDonald on Thursday, maintain his five-second advantage over Norris.

The tour is set for a thrilling finish.

With time bonuses taken into account, Torckler, 22, needs to finish fourth or better tomorrow to join past winners such as Brian Fowler, Julian Dean and Hayden Roulston on the honours list.

To prevent that and ensure an Australian victory for the third year running, Drapac Porsche, a team of polished criterium exponents, will need to attack from the outset as they seek to put Norris into at least second placing while hoping Torckler finishes no better than fifth.

"We'll have to keep an eye on what Drapac Porsche are doing while I try to stay out of trouble," said Torckler.

Under-23 classification leader Michael Matthews (Jayco Skins) won a bunch kick to win yesterday's stage with fellow-Australian Joel Pearson (Genesys Wealth Advers) second and Canadian Charles Dion (Fly V Australia) third.

Norris claimed the king of the mountains title while South African Jay Thompson, third in general classification, continues to lead the sprint ace competition.

- NZPA